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Kauai, Hawaii, the Garden Isle is an expensive little island but it certainly doesn’t have to be. There are enough FREE activities to keep you and your family occupied for the duration of a vacation to this paradise.
If you play your card (your credit card) right, you can fly for FREE with miles earned from an Airline Credit Card.
Your hotel or accommodations can be pricey so you will want to take advantage of FREE offers on Kauai whenever you can! To help save – I recommend staying in a condo with a kitchen. You might pay slightly more for a condo BUT if you can eat one or two meals in the condo every day you will save HUGE and FREE up money for other activities and souvenirs. Search for condos on Vacation Rentals By Owner (vrbo.com).
Order the FREE Kauai Official Travel Planner before you go.
Check out these FREE Things to do on Kauai, Hawaii
1 ► FREE KAUAI COUPONS & DISCOUNTS
Look for kiosks that have FREE Coupon books and brochures. You will most likely find one at the airport and/or in your hotel lobby. These books are representative of huge savings – FREE Discounts, Buy One Get One FREE Offers, FREE Souvenirs and more!
You should be able to find FREE Kauai Maps at these kiosks as well.
Consider a Hawaii Edition of the Entertainment Book for some incredible FREE offers and discounts.
2 ► FREE BEACHES
Whether you like them for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling or surfing – there are enough beaches on Kauai for everyone. Access to ALL beaches is FREE although finding some of them is a bit tricky. The ocean currents can be very strong so heed the posted warnings.
Most of my favorites were on the North Shore –
Hanalei Bay – Some say this is the place from Puff the Magic Dragon! It’s actually an impressive, long, sandy, crescent-shaped beach with a pier and breath taking views. Great beach for swimming. There are lifeguards, picnic areas and restrooms.
Tunnels Beach – is consistently rated one of the best beaches in world
Anini Beach Park – a nice long quiet and sandy beach
Kalihiwai Beach – a small beach that has great views and crashing waves – great place for a picnic lunch
Poipu Beach – incredible place for sea turtle sightings – go to the Beach House Restaurant for a great place to spot sea turtles – that’s where I saw this guy. You can sit along the water without going into the restaurant. But it’s an awesome place to have a cocktail and take in the view
Lydgate Beach Park is a nice large beach and it is also a great place to go snorkeling for FREE! It is probably one of the safest places on the island to snorkel because there is an area protected from the open ocean by a wall of rocks. It’s a great location for children and beginners.
There are MANY more beaches – explore as many as you can! I stayed on the north shore so most of my time was spent at those beaches.
3 ► FREE WILDLIFE
Roosters (are literally everywhere!), Nene, Sea Turtles, Whales, Dolphins
Kauai is like a zoo with FREE Admission! You can see whales breeching from the beach (November – May), a 200-acre nesting refuge for albatross, frigate birds, red and white tropical birds and red-footed boobies at the Kilauea Lighthouse. You might be able to catch some monk seals on Moku’ae’ae Islet just offshore from the lighthouse. Don’t forget the official Hawaiian State bird, the Nene (Hawaiian Goose), which is exclusively found in the wild on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii.
4 ► FREE WATERFALLS
There are several waterfalls that have very easy access and great visibility on the island of Kauai. They provide some incredible photo opportunities.
Wailua Waterfalls – These are the falls that were in the opening scene from The Fantasy Island (for those of us that remember). It’s not far from Lihue town and it is a pretty impressive sight as seen from the roadside lookout. Adventurous people, I’m told, can hike down to the falls for a swim. Looked a bit treacherous to me though.
Opaeka’a Waterfalls – In my opinion not as impressive mostly because the viewing is not nearly as close as Wailua Waterfalls. Might be worth it of you hike closer. You can also view it from the roadside lookout. If you cross the street the view of the valley is pretty impressive.
5 ► FREE SAMPLES & SOUVENIRS
Be sure to sample the locally produced food while you are visiting. Here are a couple of notable places to check out:
Kauai Coffee has a FREE sample stations set up for you to try every coffee that they roast and sell, including Kauai Estate Reserve Coffees, flavored coffees and decaf. The visitor center is a great place to stop for a FREE coffee break while driving on the south side of the island. Kauai Coffee’s Koloa Estate is the largest coffee farm in the United States. Plus you can see coffee plants growing with coffee beans on them – cool! These FREE Sample Chocolate Covered Coffee Peaberry (Beans) were really tasty!
Kauai Nut Roasters has a location on the North Side (Hanalei) and the South Side (Koloa) of Kauai. I was really impressed with their full FREE sample bar of local gourmet macadamia nuts. You MUST try the Turtle Turds! They are flavored with butterscotch and toffee. The spicy Pele’s Fire were really good too.
Kauai Kookie also has FREE Samples of their locally made cookies. I know I had FREE samples of all of the varieties, twice! I don’t think that I can choose a favorite though. Try Kona Coffee Macadamia and Cornflake Crunch. Kauai Kookie is located on the South Side of the island in Hanapepe.
Lappert’s Hawaii is a Kauai based maker of Hawaii Gourmet Ice Cream and Sorbet – they will let give you FREE sample tastes of some of their uniquely Hawaiian flavors including Kauai Pie Ice Cream (coffee ice cream swirled with chocolate fudge, coconut flakes, macadamia nuts and vanilla cake crunch) and Luau Delight (Coconut sorbet swirled with passion fruit sorbet). They roast their own coffee too! There are 4 locations on Kauai.
Paradise Popcorn – Make a quick stop in the Poipu Shopping Village for a FREE Sample of Pina Colada popcorn or try their Hawaiian specialty Rainbow mix – Cherry, Caramel, Blue Raspberry, Grape, and Sweet Cinnamon
Hilo Hattie – Just like all of the other locations (Including Maui) you can get FREE Shell Necklaces when you stop by Hilo Hattie in Lihue. These would make a good take home souvenir for a relative.
Cariloha Bamboo – Swing by their location in the Poipu Shopping Village and get some FREE Bamboo and bead necklaces.
6 ► FREE HAWAIIAN CULTURE
Coconut Marketplace – FREE Hula shows performed by the students of Halau Hula O Leilaniand kumu hula (teacher) Leilani Rivera Low at center stage every Wednesday at 5pm and Saturday at 1pm.
Poipu Shopping Village – FREE entertainment, such as authentic Tahitian Dance Shows, Fire Knife Dancing and Live Drumming, all free in their central courtyard.
Captain Cook Monument – Waimea Town on the west side is where Captain James Cook first landed in Hawaii. You will find a statue of him erected there. Captain Cook is believed to be the first Westerner to land on the Hawaiian islands.
Taro Fields – Taro is a sacred food filled with spirituality and tradition for Hawaiians. The north shore of Kauai is home to the largest crop of taro in Hawaii. If you stop at the over look just past the Princeville shopping center on your way to Hanalei you can see an incredible view of the taro fields.
7 ► FREE BREATHTAKING VIEWS
There is most certainly not a shortage of unbelievable FREE awe-inspiring scenery, landscape and nature on the Garden Isle of Kauai, Hawaii. These were some of my favorites –
♦ The Sunsets – Hawaiian sunsets are unparalled. If you have the opportunity stop by the Princeville St. Regis Hotel and watch the sun set from the balcony. The colors are continuously changing kaleidoscope of oranges, reds, yellows and purples as the sun descends behind the clouds, ocean and mountains. This is the view …
But, the views of the setting sun from a beach or even the hotel balcony can be just as impressive.
♦ Rainbows – Kauai is the rainiest of the Hawaiian islands. There are frequently rainbows as there is often a mix of clouds and sun. I actually witnessed some incredible rainbows on this trip – even a double rainbow!
♦ Waimea Canyon – this is like the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. It is on the west side of the island and it is a bit of a drive so plan accordingly. But it is well worth the drive! The view is stunning! What a beautiful world we live in. Look closely and you might see some mountain goats hanging out on a grassy cliff hundreds of feet below you in the canyon.
♦ Kilauea Point Lighthouse – This is the northmost point of all of the Hawaiian Islands. The lighthouse itself is very cool. The peninsula that it is on provides incredible views of the coast, the ocean, the island, birds and more. There were new born chicks when I was there. Excellent vantage point for whale watching (November – May). Also – there’s a quaint little town, Kileau, that you can stop in for a bite to eat or a little shopping as you leave.
♦ Napali Coast and Drive – The northern shore of Kauai showcases lush mountains cut with deep valleys. Most of the coast is only reachable by foot or boat. There is not a road to get there. But, the views are postcard worthy. In fact, most postcards from Kauai feature the Napali Coast.
If you drive to the farthest point (which is an awesome, picturesque drive with numerous turn outs, hidden beaches and treasures of nature) you are able to hike out. You can hike for miles if you are up to it. It’s a hike of about 11 miles to reach a secluded beach at the end. Are you game?
8 ► FREE SMARTPHONE APPS
► FREE Visitor Info Kauai Hawaii- Best Guide to Restaurants, Shopping, Art and More
► FREE Kauai – OrangeClub Media
► FREE KauaiGuide
► FREE Kauai Hawaii Guide
► FREE Lat22 Kauai
Have an incredible FREE time on Kauai!
► FREE Things to do on Maui